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NFCA Names Speedline High School Coaching Staff of the Year

COLUMBIA, MO -- Head Coach Harry Lowe and assistant coaches Kevin Bellavance and Andrew Kelley of Apponequet High School in Lakeville, Massachusetts, have been named Speedline/NFCA National High School Coaching Staff of the Year for 1999.

Lowe, in his 10th season as the school's head softball coach, guided Apponequet (24-2) to its second state title in 1999 (the other was in 1992). Apponequet was ranked No. 1 in the state by the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. Lowe was named Coach of the Year by the Globe, which also named Apponequet pitcher Michelle Santos to its All-Scholastic Team.

Lowe, Bellavance and Kelley will be honored at the NFCA National Convention in St. Petersburg, Fla., on December 3. They were first selected by NFCA member head high school coaches as the NFCA East Region Coaching Staff of the Year and then placed on the national ballot with four other high school staffs who earned similar honors in their regions.

Other Speedline top regional high school staffs, as selected by NFCA member head coaches nationwide, are:

North Region: Jenison High School (Division 1), Middleville, MI Jerry Hoag, Head Coach; Kari Jossen and Nicki Chandler, Assistant Coaches. In his 19th and final season at the helm of Jenisonís softball program (he retired from his softball coaching duties following the 1999 season), Hoag led his team to a 33-5 record and the Division 1 State Tournament runner up spot. Catcher Michelle Brander earned NFCA/Louisville Slugger First Team All-American honors and was also named Diamond Sports High School Catcher of the Year. Outfielder Julie Wiest earned Second Team All-American and First Team All-North Region honors.

South Central Region: Magnolia High School (AAAA), Magnolia, TX Renee Bialas, Head Coach; Sheryl Tamborello and Dean Hollingsworth, Assistant Coaches. Bialas led Magnolia to a 34-3 overall record and the championship of Texas Class AAAA. Magnolia finished 10th in the final USA Today/NFCA Top 25. She was named Softball Coach of the Year by the Texas Girls Coaches Association. Two of her players, Brandy Sanders (third base/pitcher) and Mendy Hartman (pitcher/third base) were named to the Texas AAAA All-State team.

South Region: South Florence High School (AAAA), Florence, SC Allyson Sprott, Head Coach; Gary Green and Mickey Lynch, Assistant Coaches. South Florence is believed to be the only high school team to finish the 1998-99 season undefeated, running up a 35-0 record on the way to the South Carolina AAAA State Championship. Brooke Flowers (utility) and Jennifer Weaver (pitcher) were named to the NFCA/Louisville Slugger First All-South Region first team. South Florence was ranked No. 3 in the final USA Today NFCA High School Top 25.

West Region: Bullard High School (CIF Central Section, Yosemite Division), Fresno, CA Erika Blanco, Head Coach; Jodi Hibdon and Julie Vorquez, Assistant Coaches. Blanco guided Bullard to a 38-1-1 record and the championship of the Yosemite Division with a 1-0 win over Clovis in the championship game. Bullard also earned the No. 1 ranking in the USA Today/NFCA High School Top 25. Lindsay Chouinard earned NFCA/Louisville Slugger All-West Region First Team At-Large honors and Cara Maxey was a second team at-large all-region choice.